About 150 business experts from West African countries will converge in Accra today for a two-day conference to build capacity for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
The countries included Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Togo, and Zimbabwe.
The conference dubbed ‘Regional Integration Issues Forum (RIIF),’ will be under the theme ‘Breaking Business Barriers for AfCFTA Acceleration.’
The event is being organised by Centre for Regional Integration in Africa (CRIA) and the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF), in collaboration with the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), with support from Afreximbank and endorsement from the AfCFTA.
In a statement issued by the organisers in Accra yesterday and copied the Ghanaian Times said the conference would showcase practical ways in which AfCFTA provides opportunities to mobilise resources and stakeholders, build capacity, scale-up businesses, develop inclusivity for intra-African trade, create jobs, expand national economies, and develop a sustainable continental market and ecosystem that effectively meets the needs of African people.
It said the Secretary General of the AfCFTA Secretariat, Wamkele Mene would deliver the keynote address coupled with interactive panel discussions, breakout sessions, networking segments, training sessions, and company site visits.
The Executive Director of CRIA, Professor Lehlohonolo Tlou, said the initiative which started since 2017 was an opportunity for SMEs to build their capacity and to engage in intra-African trade while contributing to the success of the AfCFTA.
“The AfCFTA provides tremendous opportunities for African SMEs. The RIIF 2023 conference is designed to help SMEs understand and leverage these opportunities, and to overcome barriers that they may face,” she added.
The Executive Secretary of ACBF, M. Mamadou Biteye, said capacity building played a vital role in addressing the challenges and opportunities presented by the AfCFTA and breaking the business barriers for its acceleration.
He added, “ACBF recognises that without the necessary capacities, African countries and businesses, SMEs in particular, may struggle to fully leverage the benefits of AfCFTA.
The ACBF Strategic Plan 2023-2027 includes Trade as an Engine of Economic Development as one of four key impact areas that we will focus our work on over the next five years. We will provide targeted capacity building support to governments, policymakers, institutions, private sector entities, SMEs and individuals involved in the AfCFTA implementation process.”